Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sermon blog! Here With Me

Hey guys!  Ok, so last time I said I was going to share my sermon with you all.  So I have my written out sermon here following.  But, I just want you to know that I didn’t actually read this off.  I made an outline from it and just “wung” it, as I normally do.  And I just want to tell you all now, your prayers for me were truly felt.  Honestly, I had such a peace the week leading up to preaching and trying to figure out what I should be preaching on.  And that morning, I was hardly nervous.  Like, I just honestly had such peace.  And I know that it was because I had so many people back home praying for me and also, God was just directing my words and giving me strength in that.  but thank you all so much for your support!  It is incredible.  And I guess I should tell you.  I finished my notes at 130 that morning……yup.  Don’t worry, Mom.  It’s the same procrastinating Kirsten :]

Before I get to the sermon notes, I will give you all a little update.  My next blog will be more about what we have done here in the last little while.  But for this time, I am running out of time and will just give a brief overview. 

First off, our puppies are walking!  Yay!  They both have eyes and are toddling around.  Piggie is a ton bigger than Petey, and its making Petey be able to walk so much quicker.  Lol Piggie needs to exercise,  but she hardly can.  Its just so funny.  But they are finally in their cute stage!  I am so glad we got to see them like this before we left.  Also, hey Mom and Dad.  Do you want another puppy?  Because I am gonna sneak em in my suitcase :]

Another thing.  Monday…..2 days ago, Rebekah left us.  It has been good having her with us, and I am so glad that we had the opportunity to hang out with her more, but she was ready to move on with her travels and decided to head over to stay at Travis and Bekii’s house for a little bit.  So, we are gonna keep up with her through facebook and things and keep praying for her.  I think its for the best.  This gives us time as a team to really focus here and finish out strong.  And we can still keep up with her well later.  So yeah.  God is working everything out. 

So last week, we took our last trip to the big island of Chiloe.  Half of the group left on Tuesday morning to go to Quellon, where they visited the man with terminal cancer again.  They said they had a really good visit with him, so that was awesome.  The rest of us left on Wednesday morning and met them in Quempchi, where we hung out with Travis and Bekii, some missionaries with EMM.  That was really fun.  We got to see some people that they have Bible studies with and things.  Also, we went to their friend’s house to watch a Chile vs. Peru game.  I went along to see Alexi Sanchez :D  unfortunately, he wasn’t even playing this game because it wasn’t an important game.  So that was a bit depressing.  I ended up falling asleep on the table by the end.  haha.  But yeah.  It was fun hanging with Travis and Bekii for a little.  Then, Thursday afternoon-Sunday morning, we were in Montemar again, for the last time.  I got to stay with my old host family again!  I just love that couple.  They are so sweet and funny.  So it was really good to be able to hang out with them again and see them one last time.  When we had to say goodbye, it was just sweet.  Hard, but good.  They are just such sweet people.  I am praying for them and will always remember their hospitality. 

On Saturday then, most of us left to go back to Quempchi to help Travis and Bekii with their kids program and youth group.  Both of those things were so fun!  They kids were great and had such enthusiasm.  It gave me a lot of good ideas of things I can do with kids, here and back in the states.  And then the youth group was a lot of fun too.  E gave the message which was really good, then we taught the kids how to play Signs.  I just love that game.  So we just had a really good time with them.  Also, Bekii gave us some Puppy Chow.  I was SO EXCITED!  While we were doing this, Clay and Beth were back in Montemar finishing up their mural thingy for the wall of the church.  It turned out really good!  Very proud of them! 

Then on Sunday, I preached at our church.  Ha.  It went really well.  and I just am giving God all the glory for it.  So yeah.  Also, take note, that there was a little illustration thrown into this.  I just don’t know how to explain what I did with the bags and prize, so yeah.  I guess that note didn’t help you guys at all!  Lol so sorry.  So here it is.  Starting……now :]

This morning, I am going to be talking on discipleship, faith, and surrender.  Before I begin though, I just want to say that I feel pretty intimidated with trying to preach on this topic.  I don’t feel very qualified to do so.  This whole adventure of joining REACH and coming to Chile has been a journey of faith and learning how to surrender.  I have so much to learn when it comes to this stuff.  I am in no way an expert at them at all. 

You see, I have been a believer in Christ my whole life.  I accepted Jesus into my heart when I was really little, I attended church and a Christian school my entire life, and all of my friends and family were Christians.  I have had GREAT influences surround me and have always been very supported in all I do by my parents.  I have had a very blessed life.  But a thought just hit me in the past week, and the understanding has really struck me hard.  I have been a believer my entire life, but until this past year, I haven’t been living as a disciple.  And until this past year, I didn’t even know there was a difference between them.  But now, I realize there is a HUGE difference. 

The definition of a believer is someone who has confidence in the truth or existence of something without absolute proof that one is right in doing so.  According to the definition, one can just hold this thought and not do anything else and still be a believer.  Do you understand what I am saying?  There is no action that needs to follow, just the act of believing. 

But discipleship is different.  The definition of a disciple is a person who is a pupil or an adherent of the doctrines of another; a follower.  The action of discipling is to teach or train.  Therefore, one who is a disciple must be being taught and training under the authority of another.  There is an action that follows the belief.  And that is what has been missing in my life for so long.  Until I decided to come to REACH and do this, I never pushed myself to dig deeper into the Word, to reach out to others, or to even talk about my faith with others.  I was a stale believer who was happy to just love Jesus and go nowhere with it. 

I think it’s easy to be a born again believer.  I mean, you confess your sins to God, ask for forgiveness, accept Him into your life, and know that He is the Lord.  When you do this, you become part of the family of God.  This is so exciting, right?  Of course!  But being a disciple is something so much more than that.  A disciple is someone who digs into truth, who has a desire to learn and grow, who moves to action, and who seeks the face of God with everything in him! 

It starts with faith.  In order to believe, we must have faith in something.  You need to trust the person who is trying to guide you, or else you are not going to go anywhere.  Hebrews 11 is a very powerful chapter and one of my favorites.  Verse 1 says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”  Faith is the necessity behind believing.  Nothing can prove what we have faith in.  But as Christians, we have the Creator of the world to put our faith in!  To me, faith is undoubtedly trusting that God is Who He says He is and depending fully on Him.  Last week was Easter, the time we remember what God gave up for us.  He gave us EVERYTHING when we deserve NOTHING.  So why is it so hard for us to give Him our EVERYTHING, when that is exactly what He did for us? 

Being a believer, we have faith.  But to be a disciple is to step out in that faith!  What good is faith if it doesn’t have actions to back it up?  There is no point!  James 2:14-17 makes this pretty clear.  It reads, “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?  Can such faith save him?  Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”   This is so true.  Unless someone actually demonstrates that they have love for you, do you believe them?  If I were to tell Jean everyday that I love her, but then I do nothing loving toward her, is she going to believe me?  No!  In the same way, unless we actually demonstrate our faith, no one is going to believe we have any. 

So where do we go with faith?  I think that the first step is surrendering.  As disciples of Christ, we realize that we owe Him everything.  So in return, we must give Him back OUR everything. 

A disciple is someone who follows Christ with their life.  He follows the example that Jesus gave as He lived on the earth.  And he follows that example even though he knows it means that he has to change the life he is living presently.  Matthew 4:18-22 says, “As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew.  They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.  ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men.’  AT ONCE they left their nets and followed him.  Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John.  They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets.  Jesus called them, and IMMEDIATELY they left the boat and their father and followed him.” 

The disciples didn’t think twice about following Jesus, but instead left IMMEDIATELY.  They left their jobs, their families, and their futures and followed Him without looking back.  INCREDIBLE!  Luke 14:26-27 says, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters---yes, even his own life---he cannot be my disciple.  And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”  If that doesn’t say it clearly enough, I don’t know what does.  Jesus just set the standard with this one.  Unless He is above everything else in our lives, we cannot be his disciples.  So lets give it all up, into His hands!

This is a lot easier said than done.  And until very recently, I wasn’t about to let it all go.  About 3 weeks ago, I came to a point of needing to decide if I really trusted God enough to know what was best with my life.  You see, I have been planning to go to college after this the whole time.  Its what I want to do, and I have been assuming this whole time that this is what God wants to.  So one morning, I was praying and asking God which university He wanted me to go to, and He asked me, “Since when did I tell you to go to college?” Tthis was a very hard question for me.  In asking this, He wasn’t necessarily telling me that I wasn’t supposed to go to college, but He was pointing out that I have been selfish in my plans and that I had not truly given Him every part of my life. 

Coming to Chile and living here hasn’t been super easy.  We have all had to give up a lot of things and trust God to provide for us.  Its hard being away from my family and friends in Ohio, and I have been in many situations here where I am out of my comfort zone.  But it has been great!  I have learned SO much since coming here.  God has been working inside of me and showing me His character through the lives of all of you.  I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.  This time here has shown me that when I give up control of my life to Christ and trust Him, He does something better than I could have imagined.  Sometimes its hard and the growing hurts, but in the end, its all worth it!

So, when God pointed out to me that I still hadn’t given Him control of my future, I knew what I needed to do.  My heart knew that God knows what is best for me, but at the time, my brain didn’t want to agree.  Giving up control and surrendering is hard and sometimes appears to be very stupid, but in the end, its so much better than anything we could have done on our own.  Mark 14:3-9 is a great example of how giving God everything we have is sometimes looked on as ridiculous, but it’s the best thing we can do.  It says, “While He was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard.  She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.  Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, ‘Why this waste of perfume?  It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.’  And they rebuked her harshly.  ‘Leave her alone,’ said Jesus.  ‘Why are you bothering her?  She has done a BEAUTIFUL THING to me.  The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want.  But you will not always have me.  SHE DID WHAT SHE COULD.  She poured perfumed on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial.  I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.’”

This woman did ALL SHE COULD DO.  She brought to Jesus what she had to offer and literally gave it all up.  She was looked down for it by others, because it appeared to be a waste of everything she had.  But Jesus said that it was a BEAUTIFUL THING.  And she would be remembered for it throughout the world.  What an honor!  This was no waste at all!  And it has been a great lesson for me.

So finally, I just had to give it up.  I told God that I would do whatever He led me to, all He has to do is reveal it to me.  Now, I still know what I want, but if God leads me to something different, I am prepared to say, “Yes, Lord.  I will go.”  And that is what surrendering is.  Its stepping out in faith and following His way and plan, fully expecting God to do what He has promised, no matter what. 

In a book I was reading, a quote really stuck out to me.  The author was referring to his life, and he said to God, “I know that there’s not much here to work with.  But please, take it, break it, multiply it, and feed the hungry.  And whether by pain or by comfort, whether by sorrow or by joy, whether by life or by my death, glorify Thy name in all the earth!”  That mentality, that act, and that dedication is what discipleship is all about.  Its the giving of our whole beings to the Creator of the universe and letting Him do with it what He would have. 

To close, I would like for everyone to turn to Hebrews 11 again, this time to verses 32-38.  “And what more shall I say?  I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who become powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.  Women received back their dead, raised to life again.  Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection.  Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison.  They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword.  They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated---the world was not worthy of them.  They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.”  This is crazy!  These people had such great faith, that at no matter what cost, no matter how much it hurt, and no matter if they had to give their lives, they were faithful to Christ.  They surrendered EVERYTHING!  And you know what?  THE WORLD WAS NOT WORTHY OF THEM!  If ever there was an honorable compliment, it would be this: to have Jesus say to you, “Well done, Son.  The world was not worthy of you!” 

I read in the same book as I had mentioned before, that to live for truth, you must first decide you are willing to die for truth.  Truth is a Person.  Truth is Jesus Christ.  And if we are truly going to live for Jesus, then we must first decide that we are willing to die for Jesus.  If we can say honestly that we are ready for this, then we are on the path to true discipleship.  Because that is what it is all about.  Its about faith, surrender, and following His way.

Ok.  Note.  End of sermon.  So yeah.  That is what God has been putting on my heart and what I thought I should share.  I would really appreciate your guys’ continued prayers as I am still trying to figure out what God has for me.  I have a lot of decisions to make before May 1st.  So I am really trying to seek His will, face, and voice this week. 

Also, one last thing before I end this.  The song of the post.  This week, I have decided that Here With Me by Everyday Sunday is going to be featured.  I LOVE it.  So much.  Just such a great song!  This is what I want my life to scream.  “And I will follow You forever, even if I’m standing in the fire!”  let’s do it, people.  God bless and enjoy!  

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